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Melbourne to host giant games festival

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Mark Morrison

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Xbox controller video game.

Xbox controller video game.

One of the world's biggest games festivals will have its first offshoot outside the United States in Melbourne next year.

Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) Australia will be held at the Melbourne Showgrounds on July 19-21 next year and again in 2014.

Victorian Minister for Innovation, Services and Small Business Louise Asher said the festival would help promote the state's games industry, and was expected to attract domestic and international visitors.

"Attracting PAX Australia to Melbourne was a major coup for Victoria," Ms Asher said.

Today's announcement ends months of speculation about the host city, after Australia was named in August as the site for PAX's international expansion.

Penny Arcade president Robert Khoo yesterday cited Melbourne's support of games culture as a significant factor.

While publishers and developers will showcase the latest titles, much of the event's focus will be on gathering people together to play.

The festival takes a broad view of games and will encompass console video games, PC games and handheld games (to be offered in a massive bean bag lounge), as well as non-digital forms including board games, card games, role-playing games and miniatures.

The event was founded in 2004 in Seattle by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, creators of the game-savvy web comic Penny Arcade. Their vision was an expo that would give the same attention to games that events such as Comic-Con and Anime Expo give to comics and Japanese animation.

Australian game-based events, such as this week's Game Connect Asia Pacific, are often aimed at game developers, while PAX is squarely for the players.

In Seattle, the PAX Prime show attracts 70,000 people and sells out within days. It expanded to Boston in 2010.

Details and tickets at paxaustralia.com.au